Pakistani army rejects Imran Khan’s US plot claims

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s mighty military on Thursday dismissed ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s accusation that the United States conspired to overthrow him in a parliamentary vote of confidence.

Khan, 69, who ruled the nuclear-armed South Asian country of 220 million people for more than three years, accused Washington of backing his ouster because he visited Moscow against the advice of the United States. Washington denies the charge.

Khan met Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, the day Russian forces invaded neighboring Ukraine.

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Khan initially blocked the censorship decision, saying a forum of civilian and military leaders, the National Security Committee, had approved the alleged plot.

Army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar denied this.

“You can clearly see if there is a conspiracy word in that statement. I don’t think so,” he said at a news conference in reference to an NSC statement this month that expressed concern about undiplomatic language used in a cable from a “foreign country ”, widely assumed to mean the United States, about the non-vote of confidence.

Pakistan’s lower house of parliament finally voted to impeach Khan on Sunday.

Opposition parties and analysts say the military helped Khan win the 2018 election, which they both deny, but that support has dwindled after a falling out over the country’s next intelligence chief at the end of last year.

Khan’s former information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, has called for a judicial commission to be set up to investigate the charge that the United States conspired to overthrow Khan.

Iftikhar denied Khan’s claim that army chief of staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had offered to help mediate his standoff with the opposition.

Instead, he said, Khan had asked Bajwa to let the opposition know on his behalf that he would call a snap election if the no-confidence motion was withdrawn.

“(Bajwa) went to the opposition and made this request to them, and after a detailed discussion they said that they would not take any such action and that ‘we will continue as we have planned'”, Iftikhar said. .

He also clarified that the United States never asked for military bases in Pakistan after the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan last August. Khan’s party had said Washington turned against him after he said “absolutely not” in a TV interview in response to a question about whether he would give Americans the basics.

Khan aired the conspiracy allegations at his public rallies, demanding a snap election.

The next legislative elections will take place in 2023.

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